Comedic enablerBernie Sahlins

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A native of Chicago, Sahlins was a theatrical producer. In 1953, he co-founded the Playwrights Theatre Club, and “discovered” a number of actors, such as Mike Nichols, Elaine May, and Ed Asner. In 1959, he co-founded another venue: the Second City improvisational comedy troupe (and its associated TV venue, SCTV), which provided a showcase for comedians including Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, John Candy, Gilda Radner, John Belushi, and George Wendt. “Bernie was a mischievous imp with the mind of Bertrand Russell,” says Wendt, who went on to play “Norm” on Cheers. “Bernie’s track record for discovering future Hollywood megastars was unmatched,” said Tim Kazurinsky, another of Sahlin’s discoveries. “You really can’t exaggerate his contribution.” Sahlins refined how sketch comedy was done; his methods are the basis for shows like Saturday Night Live. Bernard Sahlins continued to write and direct well into his 80s, and died in his Chicago home on June 16. He was 90.

From This is True for 16 June 2013